Anatomy of a Tiger Tamer

By Rex HoggardSeptember 2, 2009, 9:32 pm

Forget the Ides of March, August was the cruelest of months, at least for Tiger Woods. Over a single fortnight the unthinkable happened ... twice.

One long-time Tour putting coach pointed out that Woods “putts by memory,” and the only thing he wants to remember about Liberty National is the exit signs. His silence regarding the first-year venue spoke volumes and despite the ever-present chirping of his critics, Woods’ ballstriking at The Barclays and PGA Championship makes him a perennial favorite as the playoffs turn for home.

There’s nothing wrong with Woods that familiar greens at TPC of Boston, Cog Hill and East Lake can’t fix. There is, however, no escaping the accomplishments of Y.E. Yang and Heath Slocum, the two soft-spoken Davidss who took down the game’s Goliath.

Y.E. Yang and Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods shakes hands with PGA champion Y.E. Yang

On the cover, these two tomes are yin and, well yang, fiction and non-fiction, DSL and cable, fried catfish and kimchi.

One is a late bloomer from Jeju-do Island, the other came into full bloom last week in the shadow of the world’s busiest island – Manhattan; one is a southerner by the grace of God, the other a South Korean by United Nations mandate; one did a tour of duty in the DMZ, the other won his Tour card via a battlefield promotion.

Yet despite their vastly divergent paths, both have arrived at the same lofty crossroads within the last three weeks having won a Sunday staring contest against a man who has made a career out of not blinking.

Yang’s triumph, the more improbable of the two, given Woods’ two-stroke advantage going into the final round and his 14-for-14 record as a major closer, was largely written off as a putting anomaly, a byproduct of Woods’ 33 Sunday strokes on Hazeltine National’s greens.

But then Slocum found the answer to Liberty National’s greens, roared from four-shots back with a 67 and held off Woods for the biggest payday of his career that, at least in a twisted Monday quarterback way, validated Yang’s stunner.

“It had to happen eventually,” Slocum reasoned late Sunday in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. Seemed about right, the towering lady has watched her share of fairytale endings in her day, what’s a little unscripted magic on emerald fairways carved from a former toxic waste dump?

If imitation is the best form of flattery, Woods must feel the love every time he walks into a gym or onto a practice range on Tour. The world No. 1 could probably make enough to top off the gas tanks on “Privacy” with premium unleaded selling “how to” books to his Tour stablemates.

Yet for those who have spent the last decade or so searching for the perfect “TW” playbook, Yang and Slocum are worthy of a closer inspection.

From two vastly different molds the Tiger-taming two-ball have reached strangely similar ends at least psychologically and strategically.

“He played the golf course,” said Dr. Gio Valiante, Slocum’s sports psychologist. “He didn’t get involved with who was between him and the lead or what Tiger was doing. It’s like laundry – wash, rinse, repeat.”

Good advice, particularly for the regular cast of Tiger challenging stand-ins who have seemed to subscribe to the “fluff and fold” school of thought.

Woods’ final-round scoring average was more than a stroke better than his primary opponents at major championships before the PGA. And yet Yang did Woods five better on Sunday at Hazeltine National while Slocum played the game’s alpha male to a draw (67) in New Jersey. But then that’s the “what;” it’s the “how” that matters.

On a pair of monster layouts – Hazeltine stretched to a burly 7,674 yards while Liberty was no slouch at 7,419 yards – Slocum (5-foot-7) and Yang (5-foot-9) did what they do best, hit for average.

Yang hit 11 of 14 fairways on Sunday, while Slocum was similarly safe (9 of 14 fairways) all the while averaging six fewer yards than Woods off the tee. Where the duo didn’t give ground is on the greens, the strongest part of both players’ games in recent years.

Slocum needed 109 putts to cover 72 holes at Liberty National and holed two attempts from outside 20 feet on Sunday, including that 21-foot walkoff at the last, compared to Woods’ 114 putts for the week and not a single holed attempt outside 17 feet all week.

Same story different National at the PGA, where Yang needed 118 putts to secure Asia’s first Grand Slam keepsake – men’s division – while Woods needed 120 putts and a restraining order to keep him from doing serious harm to that famous flat stick when the dust settled on the former corn field.

But then execution, particularly against Woods on a Sunday, is only part of the equation. If Yang and Slocum are to be copied, it seems the best way to tilt at the game’s ultimate windmill is with a hot putter and a set of industrial-strength blinders.

“I’ve never been around a more mentally tough competitor,” said Yang’s caddie A.J. Montecinos at Hazeltine National. “Nothing affects him, doubles, triples, whatever. He just doesn’t feel the pressure.”

There is also something to be said for lowered expectations. In fairness to all that road kill Woods has piled up over 70 Tour victories, many of the game’s media-anointed rivals have arrived in the center ring handicapped by expectations of something special.

With all due respect to Yang and Slocum, outside of immediate family and friends, few gave them a chance to turn the dog days of summer into the time of the underdog. It’s a reality both embraced.

“I’ve never seen a golfer put less pressure on himself to perform,” said Yang’s swing coach Brian Mogg. “He’s got a rare gift for that.”

A gift that, luckily for Woods, no one has conjured a way to box up and sell. But that won’t stop the rank and file from trying.

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LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.


Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish


U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)


The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself


PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


AT&T Pebble Beach

Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

Travelers Championship

Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts



Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret


Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."